Nicole and I returned to Korea after a day later than we’d originally intended thanks in part to some last minute snafus with our visas. We ended up getting them the day before we flew to Korea and hurriedly packing before flying out.
We had a week long orientation when we arrived. The orientation was held at a hotel just outside of Gwangju. The hotel was really nice, although not as nice as our private pool hotel room in Seoul. We spent our days in the hotel’s banquet hall learning about Korean culture and how to teach in Korea. A lot of the information was familiar to us already, but some of it was new and its not bad to have an occasional review.
Damyang Bamboo Forest
On one of the orientation days we went on a field trip to Damyang Bamboo forest. I went there last year so it was old news for me, but Nicole had never been and she fell in love with the panda statues everywhere.
The forest was a bit more lively this time around. There were re-enactors making paper fans and preparing tea. Traditional games were also set up. One such game involved throwing a stick into a bamboo shoot. No one was good at that game. I concluded that it was impossible.
Dance Dance Korea
After our traditional Korea bamboo forest visit we had a fantastic lunch in the middle of nowhere. At the end of our meal we got sweet rice in little bamboo shoot cups. Nicole and I kept our cups as souvenirs, and because who can say no to free cups?
But why is this section called Dance Dance Korea if all I’m doing is talking about cups? Well wonder no longer, for I am about to tell you…after the end of this sentence.
The next stop on our field trip took us to a modern dance performance in a temple near Mudang Mountain. Nicole will tell you (if you ask) that the performance was not modern, and possibly not even dance. I don’t claim to understand the complex world of dance and theater so for me it was just a way to pass the afternoon sitting on a hard wooden floor. My take away from the dance was it was a story of a blind man who regained his sight when he met his estranged daughter. I might be way off on that though.
The Rest of Orientation
The rest of Orientation was less eventful. We visited the hospital and got our medical checks done. We made some traditional Korean crafts, including a small bag of potpourri in a traditional Korean Hambok. We also learned a traditional Korean song which I have since forgotten.
Award Winning Couple
On our second to last day of our orientation week, all the teachers had to perform a short model lesson. The lesson was only 5-10 minutes and meant to showcase your talents as a teacher. Nicole and I both won awards for being amazing teachers and teaching great lessons. Our Korean co-teachers were thrilled when they picked us up that afternoon. They even brought us to the office of education when we arrived in Gwangyang to show off our new awards. Only a week in Korea and we were already off to a great start!